Squid Ink Pasta and Fried Garlic Eggplant

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While I was moving into my apartment in Chicago my parents were very kind to stick around for a couple days and help with unpacking, drinking local beer, and going to fun food venues. One of those was a place downtown called “Eataly.” If there was something Italian that existed, you could find it at this store. Although I honestly try to stay away from pasta as much as possible (grains!) I can never resist the perfectly portioned packages of freshly made pasta. Especially the beautiful black of squid ink tagliatelle.

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So I picked one up of squid ink and another of spinach, I cant resist the colors they come in! Again, because I had so much produce on hand (this is becoming a theme in the last week, and really all Summer) I decided to make a pasta-toss of sorts with the tagliatelle, olive oil, tomatoes, peppers, and my leftover asparagus from lunch the same day. Tossing leftover vegetables into pasta is a great way to actually want to eat your veggies! I’m sure I’ll have a frittata on here soon in which I do the same thing.

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I also noticed that my eggplant that I brought form home was looking a little sad (lumpy, not firm, but still useable) so I cooked it the way every person should cook eggplant, battered and fried. I substituted regular flour for almond flour and added a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder then fried them in olive oil. Not until I hit presentation time did I realize that the dark purple sheen of a fried eggplant medallion responds beautifully to the pile of black ribbons that squid ink tagliatelle makes on a plate.

The entire recipe that follows is as I remember making it, so it’s not really measured, just estimated.

Squid Ink Tagliatelle Toss

Ingredients

– 1 package of squid ink tagliatelle, fresh

– Leftover roasted asparagus, about 10 stalks

– 1-3 Roma tomatoes depending on size, mine were garden grown so they were a little smaller

– 1 lemon

– Red chili pepper

– Sea Salt

– Freshly ground pepper

– Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Chop all the vegetables together. The asparagus is already roasted so it really just needs warmed. I threw the tomatoes, asparagus, and pepper into one pan with a little bit of olive oil to cook and warm them up.

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While the veggies are cooking bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fresh pasta 3-4 minutes, it doesn’t need the same amount of time as dry pasta if you haven’t worked with fresh before.

Strain the noodles and coat them lightly with olive oil. In a medium bowl combine pasta and contents of vegetable pan and toss it all together. Squid ink pasta sometimes has a fishy or general sea-life smell to it, so I Cut a lemon in half and juiced it over the pasta once I was done tossing it. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Grain-free Fried Eggplant

Ingredients

– 1 Eggplant, cut into 3/8″ rounds. I got about 7 rounds from mine

– Almond flour

– Garlic powder

– Freshly ground pepper

– Salt

– Olive oil

Instructions

Salt Eggplant rounds in a bowl for about 10 minutes to get some moisture out and also help breading adhere to their puffy flesh.

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Heat about 1/4 inch of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Combine almond flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 

Once the eggplant rounds have sweated toss them a few times to make sure they’re coated in their juice. Pour the breading over the eggplant rounds and toss together until the rounds are fully coated.

Prepare a plate with paper towels for placing the rounds to cool after being fried. When the oil is hot enough (test this by dropping in a little almond mix to see if it bubbles) place all the rounds in the oil. cook about 2-4 minutes on either side depending on how tender you want your eggplant. Nothing in the mix needs cooked to a specific temperature because there is no egg wash or meat involved so its really up to you. 

When they are adequately fried place them on the paper towel to soak up excess grease. I plated them with the eggplant rounds in a semicircle with the pasta next to that, but mixing them together would also be great. Pour yourself a drink and dig in! 

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